Saturday, November 25, 2006

No news is sort of good news?

Nothing really new to post, other then shooting has hit a bit of a delay. This is for several reasons.

First reason, lack of a shooting location for the final three sequences - I had a gymnasium lined up as a location, but that has fallen through for some very annoying reasons I won't go into.

However, the silver lining to that is more time to prep everything. So really, just lost time I can live with if the payoff is a better and more prepared shoot. By more prepared I mean bringing in lights to pull off some special effects gags, getting a better feel for the scenes overall and all that stuff.

And of course the ever present financial reasons, which should no longer be a problem if all works out. I need to bring in some new lighting equipment as well as a massive white backdrop for a scene I'm calling "The White Room" - which really isn't a "white room" exactly, but it looks like that out of context.

Other then that, working on collecting music for a soundtrack. As lame as it kinda sounds, you wouldn't believe what is available out there for royalty free music. It might cost a bit of money, but it's beyond worth it.

And in the meantime I've also been busy going over all the FX - and there is going to be a lot. From cleaning up the burned out pixels for nearly half the movie, to just cleaning up excess objects in frame here and there (namely scripts in a few key shots) to colour correcting, extra dramatic lighting here and there and even removing entire parts of certain shots - it's going to be a huge amount of work...And I haven't even started on the actual special effects stuff yet.

An example of a script in the shot.
The average person might not notice it or even care.
But if I can fix it, I can't live with leaving it in.

To give you a rough idea. The Library Scene we shot last week. It's got roughly 27 shots, 26 of those need to be touched up BEFORE I even start to add in the computer generated set or Librarian character. And then there's an entire computer generated chase scene that has to be storyboarded and created.

So you might be asking "Is this even worth it?" The answer is yes, obviously. The Monkey Rodeo: MALICE is hardly the next Oscar worthy movie, even on an Indie or B-Movie scale, but what I want is something that is just fun to watch because there's just so much to look at. Not a fan of overdone eye-candy movies, but there's a small niche that this fits into and I think it should fit in it's own small way.

Anyway, I mention the FX side of things because I know so many of you just sit and wait week after week wondering what absolutely tedious work I'm up to this week. And just for you, I have an extra special treat...well, not really extra or even special really, just an example of the post work going on so far.

Some examples:

Here we have the original shot.

And the more or less final version.

All I really did was make a single mask that removed the far left edge of the frame - removing the mirror around the door and the wall. And for when Malice enters I had to mask out the entire hallway in behind her - because I wanted it to be just black - not looking like a hotel hallway. That part was done through a process called rotosplining, I may have mentioned it before, not sure. In any case this process is used to create a mask where normally you might use a green screen but either don't have the budget or time or whatever - so you end up creating shapes (splines) and matching them up with the video nearly frame by frame at some points - I guess that's the roto part...I don't really know, so don't ask me, I just made that up perhaps.

Without going too deeply into it, the process is partially automated. If you set the position of the splines at your first frame (usually 0) and then at say the 10th frame, you'll could get lucky and hopefully frames 1 through 9 will match up, since it moves the splines automatically from their positions at frames 0 to 10. And you would do this for an entire clip, at 30 frames a second it can get pretty tedious the longer the shot. I think you get the point.

And this is a much easier shot to clean up, just a single mask that removes the unwanted visuals at the right edge.
And After.
These are fairly straightforward and simple clean up jobs - but when you have close to 200 or more throughout the entire movie it becomes slightly overwhelming by times. So I'm just taking it pretty much one scene at a time for now.

If these changes look a little subtle, that's the point. If I can give any advice to any filmmakers at my level - don't think about doing this kind of thing unless you've already set it up in advance to make these kind of changes. In other words, don't film during the day and think you can make it look like night (watch some episodes of Magnum PI to see what I mean). So knowing I would be removing those sections of the shots, I set them up accordingly knowing full well with a little effort it could be cleaned up.

Also, if you're looking at these and thinking the edges past the door might be a little too dark - that's fine, this is just a first pass and I haven't really decided if I'm going with the doorway sort of floating in an inky black space look or if there'll be some sort of visible (although still dark) wall back there.

Sorry for the tech laden post for those of you who just like the pretty pictures - I feel for you, I really do. In closing, it probably will be some time before you see too much new stuff other then this sort of thing - so you've been warned, no complaining.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Library

First off, a bit of background on this scene. I think this was always one of the scenes I had in mind when I first started messing around with the idea of turning the original script into a more supernatural then sci-fi kind of movie.

I knew The Library would have to be mostly computer generated, there was never any doubt it was ever going to be otherwise - just how big of a chore was the only up in the air part.

Basically it was meant to be shot like this. I wanted a doorway, something simple, fairly non-descript that would fit with the intended environment. That was the hard part, we nearly shot this scene several times already, first time was over a year ago actually. I was never thrilled with the doorways I found, there was always something that made shooting around it a pain in the ass.

I kept putting it off, and each time I put it off I was able to gather together more props to make it more what I had in mind when I wrote it, until a year later I had everything perfect. Even my location. One of the huge ballrooms at the Delta hotel - a nice massive open space and a huge door, nothing too flashy or too plain. So finally everything was in place.

Now the main idea behind the scene is that there is this library that's so old and an ancient it pretty much houses nearly every old book known to human and demonkind alike. So this is where Malice ends up in her search to identify the thing that's been wandering about murdering hundreds of people.

The "live" set will just consist of the doorway and the area around it. There's a bookstand - what better to stand books on? And a hanging lantern that will pretty much light the scene for the most part. And of course "The Book" itself, which is a prop I purchase off eBay from an individual down in Florida, I believe, who makes these crazy HP Lovecraft inspired statues, books and props. If I'd had more money and time I'd probably found a way to work all those pieces into the movie.

So Malice walks in, the lantern lights up and reveals the computer generated set beyond. The area she's in will appear to be just floating in space pretty much - I think, I'm working on various visuals that may change this. And the area surrounding will be a massive, several story library where all the books are pretty much alive. So the air will be filled with books in certain places.

And then there's The Librarian character, a little floating fellow (still going through several designs of him as well) that helps Malice find what she's looking for...sort of.

So that's the scene, more or less. Without a doubt the biggest special effects undertaking I've ever done and probably ever will do for some time. I hope it doesn't kill my poor computers just rendering it.

That's out of the way. Now onto the shoot itself. It went great, the location was so easy to film in without any worries whatso ever. No one bothered us once.

Firstly, thanks to Scott Parsons for giving us a drive down with all the props and equipment, that would've sucked to walk. And thanks to Heather as usual for putting up with the now even more dreaded eyepatch, and of course, thanks to Moe for taking more pictures - you'll see them later, be patient.

So everything went as planned, a little hard to focus in such low light, but that's fixable in post so I'm not really worried. I think the hardest part was for Heather to have a conversation with something that wasn't there. This, as I mentioned before, is a very heavy FX scene. Otherwise it went very quickly and painless. Onto the pictures.

Malice enters The Library.
The background behind the door will be removed
in post, as well as any extra reflections or lights
you might be seeing.
I really like the way the lighting turned out in
this scene for the most part.
This is one of the shots of Heather acting with no one.
Once finished there'll be a little floating guy with her onscreen.
Well, not really, I think it's called The Book of the Skull
or something like that. Don't know where the guy who made
it got that name from though.
And some of the pages. These were made by me,
the above book is actually just filled with empty pages.
And more pages. I like the brain picture.
You can see there's no book on the stand at this point, this is
another "it'll be added in post" shot. Malice rips out a page
and the book will fly away in the final version.
And finally the whole reason for coming to The Library.
This is where Malice discovers who the evil dude slicing up people is.

So that's pretty much it, it's mainly a dialog scene with some cool FX, so there's really not much to show you right now. As I said before, this was always one of my favorite scenes and at first glance I think it'll be pretty closed to what I'd imagined.

I'll update again with some behind the scenes stuff in the next couple days.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ain't no cure for a Delvian Demon Run hangover

Some behind the scenes pictures from the other night of filming.

Coming on the end of some lengthy exposition.
That just looks kinda cool.
Some of the props from this scene.
Heather looks way to amused by something.
And that green crap again.
If you saw how this looked behind the scenes,
it would totally ruin the effect, so I'm not showing you.
I took the time after all last night to do a rough edit of the scene and was surprised how quickly it came together. I took more angles then I intended to for certain parts and I'm glad I did. My reason for not wanting to originally was because doing the setups can take up so much time, and by the time we had the bulks of the scene over we'd only spent just shy of 90 minutes shooting, so it was more then worth it.

What took up so much time was the setup for the FX shots, but I think I mentioned that before. It was worth it though, I think I had enough footage to get the timing I need for the FX and the setup for the entire image in the green liquid in the bowl effect. So overall I'm pretty happy with the way the scene came out, it's a little dark in places, but I'm getting used to that still and it doesn't ruin it, just means I have to pay more attention.

So everyone involved can breath a sigh of relief, we're all good, that's one more major scene over and done with. And as far as what's left to shoot, with Heather there's one more really major dialog heavy scene that involves her and a computer generated creature in a giant computer generated library - and then after that I think she has all of 8 lines left for the entire last 20 minutes of the movie.

We're getting ready now to do The Library scene - which while it'll be fairly simple to shoot will end up being the most work in post of all the scene in the entire movie. The set will consist of just a doorway and the surrounding area, about 10 feet in all directions. The rest of the set will be a massive, several story library where all the books are alive. So there'll need to be some very careful planning to pull this off.

If you don't hear from me until then, don't be surprised, my head might have exploded.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Known side effects of Delvian Demon Rum

Tonight we shot a rather important scene, basically it's where (hopefully) everyone gets to clue in to what's really going on. All the loose ends are more or less tied up and we proceed onto some actiony type scenes after a couple lengthy exposition scenes.

I hate exposition scenes by the way. They're hard to film and make look interesting, luckily when you're dealing with this kind of movie you can at least add some cool props and effects to help ease any potential boredom.

The shoot went longer then I figured, the bulk was over and done with in an hour or so, but when it came time for setups for some FX shots, what a bloody pain in the ass. I'd planned it out - or so I thought - pretty well beforehand, but I guess this was just one of those things that changes once you actually get down to filming it.

The only major problem we had, and this is actually the only major problem I think we've really had so far, was dealing with a silly bottle of glowing green liquid. Now that seems like a simple enough practical effect, right? Wrong, big piles of wrong. I thought to myself some time ago, "Hey, it's be cool to use the liquid from a glowstick." So I tested it, worked perfectly. That was over a year ago, and for some reason the laws of everything changed since then and we made a mess. The shot more or less works, so I'm happy with it, but this was easily the stupidest idea I've ever had. I got that crap on my hand and it burned and now my fingers are kinda numb. Very, very stupid.

This stuff says it's non-toxic - but how much non-toxic stuff actually melts paint and turns your skin white? If you learn one thing from reading this, you've now learned glowsticks are evil.

Otherwise, things were good. I had a bit of a headache so it was hard to concentrate. Moe was rather sick too I think, at least she was moving at the speed of a sick person. But she still got some pictures I think, I haven't seen them yet so I'll post those one I get them, but for now I've just got a few stills from tonight.

Malice shows up for a visit.
And brings some Delvian Demon Rum!
Grayson doesn't like what he's reading.
Another shot of a very long conversation.
And onto the vile green crap of doom.
While Malice plays with a voodoo spirit bomb.
And the glowing orb of something or other.
Ooh, it's radioactive!
“I should bring sample kit, this would be an excellent
opportunity to analyse the Bile Demon’s stomach fluids.”

And that's it for now. From what I can tell everything came out pretty good. I don't think I'll get around to editing it tonight, it'd probably come out like crap anyway if I did, I'm not really in the mood to wade through over 50 minutes of footage for a 4 minutes scene.

Since I'm uploading stuff, I thought I might as well upload some extra stuff from the photo shoot for the movie poster.

Heather and I discover we're shoe buddies!
I'm not really sure if that's a good or bad thing.
Draper yells at his agent, or he would appear
to be if he had one.
That's it, pet the nice camera. Who's a pretty camera?
One good thing about having real sharp weapons around.
They're good to cut things up with.
And now some various shots for Malice.
This one reminds me of why I decided to
have an eyepatch in the first place.
Snake Plisken!

And there you go. I had a whole pile more to chose from, just thought I'd post some of them.
That's it for now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More stuff from the photo shoot

Spent more time going through the stuff, worked on some variations for mini-posters.

This one came out great, I may do a
larger version with more details and
make this the actual poster.

A mini poster of The Resurrectionist.

This one's kind of a take on the poster for Constantine.
This one, I was just playing around - not meant to be anything
terribly special, just thought I'd put it here anyway.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Movie Poster photo shoot

To put it as simply as possible, the photo shoot went brilliantly.

Lately everything has been working near perfectly (I'd say perfect but then there's nowhere to go from there) and I hope it continues as we move on to some of the really major scenes. But I was thinking earlier this week how much it can really suck sometimes to be any sort of independant filmmaker - financial reasons aside - just the stress and hassle involved in any number of areas. Luckily for me, the people I work with aren't one of those problems.

Honestly I think the people I work with are probably one of the main reasons I keep doing it. Like tonight, under less then wonderful conditions we did a photo shoot. I say less then wonderful because it would've been nice to be in an actual studio with proper lighting and whatnot, but regardless we got some great pictures - thanks to Moe Chandler who gets that delightful job.

And having great actors who are at least willing to try doing something, no matter how stupid it might make them feel, is always a plus. And the fact that I have a tendency to work with very photogenic people certainly doesn't hurt. I know Heather might disagree, but I think it's near impossible for her to take a bad picture.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of all that was, just something I was thinking about. So, now that that's out of the way, onto some pictures.

These two are the first so far in a series of mini-posters I'm doing for the movie. The photo shoot itself was for this reason as well as for getting material for the actual movie poster. So far we got Malice and Karl. I'm doing a couple variations with Malice, because we got so many great pictures for her. And I have yet to go through the images for The Resurrectionist and do up one for him.

I have at least 3, maybe 4 more of these I want to do. One for Grayson, Crais and the Bile Demons, and there's going to be a special one made for The Resurrectionist that I probably won't show anyone but the actors - mainly because it gives away some movie elements.

From these pictures as well I'm doing some desktop wallpapers. So far I've got about 8 or so, all from pictures taken by Moe during the course of filming. Some are just characters, others are kinda like stills from the movie itself.

Right now the wallpapers are pretty small, I did that on purpose for now since they're really not ready for public consumption, so to speak. They will be available once the website goes online - and I really have no idea when that will be right now.

So, that's it until Sunday, we're filming again then.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Last Titan update for now

I think this is pretty much it - aside from the final texturing and plant growth, I'm pretty well happy with the way it came out. And trust me, it's going to look so much different once it's animated and added into the actual footage.